NBC’S HOSTILE DEBATE HOSTS: The Worst of Holt and Welker

November 2nd, 2023 10:25 AM

NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt and Meet the Press host Kristen Welker are set to moderate (along with talk show host Hugh Hewitt) the third Republican primary debate on November 8 and, as NewsBusters warned before the NBC moderators were chosen, GOP voters should expect hostile questions that push a left-wing agenda and are hostile to conservatives and their policy positions. 

MRC founder and President L.Brent Bozell challenged Holt and Welker in this letter.

In September, Welker took over Meet the Press moderating duties from Chuck Todd. To help Welker’s first episode, former President Donald Trump agreed to appear. In return, he faced the usual liberal fact-checking interruptions, especially when answering questions about abortion.

Here’s a montage of Holt and Walker via NewsBusters Media Editor Bill D’Agostino:



Several times, Welker tried to quiet Trump’s charge that Democrats favor abortion right up to birth. “Democrats aren’t saying that. Democrats are not saying that,” argued in pushing liberal talking points.

All of this isn’t too surprising, given Welker comes from a family that has deep “Democrat ties.”

When Welker moderated the October 22, 2020 presidential debate she hit then-incumbent President Donald Trump and Vice President Biden with tough questions on immigration, race issues and crime — but all from the left:



Welker to Trump: 

“Mr. President, your administration separated children from their parents at the border, at least 4000 kids. You’ve since reversed your zero tolerance policy, but the United States can’t locate the parents of more than 500 children. So how will these families ever be reunited?”

Welker to Biden: 

“The Obama administration did fail to deliver immigration reform, which had been a key promise during the administration. It also presided over record deportations as well as family detentions at the border before changing course. So why should voters trust you with an immigration overhaul now?”

Welker to Trump: 

“We’re going to continue on the issue of race. Mr. President, you’ve described the Black Lives Matter movement as a symbol of hate. You’ve shared a video of a man chanting white power to millions of your supporters. You’ve said that Black professional athletes exercising their first amendment rights should be fired. What do you say to Americans who say that kind of language from a president is contributing to a climate of hate and racial strife?”

Welker to Biden: 

“Crime bills that you supported in the 80s and 90s contributed to the incarceration of tens of thousands of young Black men who had small amounts of drugs in their possession. They are sons, they are brothers, they are fathers, they’re uncles whose families are still to this day, some of them, suffering the consequences. So speak to those families, why should they vote for you?

It should be pointed out that Welker did bring up Hunter Biden in the debate, but she waited 35 minutes to talk about it and weakly brought it up: “Vice President Biden, there have been questions about the work your son did in China and for a Ukrainian energy company when you were Vice President. In retrospect was anything about those relationships inappropriate or unethical?”

Back at the September 26, 2016 presidential debate, Holt repeatedly cross-examined and fact-checked GOP nominee Donald Trump. However, for Hillary Clinton there was not one single challenge to anything she said. And there wasn’t a hard-hitting question to the Democratic nominee on any of her controversies whether it be Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation or her e-mails.

Listed below are questions actually asked by Holt, during that debate: 

Holt to Trump: 

“Mr. Trump, we’re talking about the burden that Americans have to pay, yet you have not released your tax returns and the reason nominees have released their returns for decades is so voters will know if their potential president owes money to, who he owes it to and any business conflicts. Don’t Americans have a right to know if there are any conflicts of interest?” 

Holt to Trump: 

“Mr. Trump, for five years, you perpetuated a false claim that the nation’s first black president was not a natural born citizen. You questioned his legitimacy. In the last couple of weeks you acknowledge what most Americans have accepted for years, the President was born in the United States. Can you tell us what took you so long?”

Holt to Trump: 

“Mr. Trump, with a lot of these are judgment questions. You had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion. What makes your judgment, why is your judgment any different than Mrs. Clinton’s?”


A review of MRC’s archives certainly calls into question Holt’s and Welker’s ability to be fair during Wednesday’s debate. The following is just a handful of Holt and Welker’s most biased moments over the years:


Mr. President Are You a Russian Agent? 



“Mr. President, yes or no. Have you or are you now — have you ever worked for Russia? Yes or no?”
— NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker to Donald Trump in a January 14, 2019 confrontation.


Failed Attempt to Fact Check Trump On Abortion



President Donald Trump: “Pro-lifers have the right to negotiate for the first time. They had no rights at all because the radical people on this are really the Democrats that say after five-month, six months, seven months, eight months, and even after birth, you’re allowed to terminate the baby.”
Moderator Kristen Welker: “Democrats aren’t saying that. Democrats are not saying that. Does it bother you though that women say their lives are being put at risk? Do you feel you bear any responsibility because as you say you are responsible for having Roe v. Wade overturned?”...
Trump: “They’re gonna determine the time because nobody wants to see five, six, seven, eight, nine, months, nobody wants to see abortions when you have a baby in the womb. I said with Hillary Clinton when we had the debate, I made a statement, rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, you're allowed to do that and you shouldn’t be allowed to do that.”
Welker: “Again, no one is arguing for that, that’s not a part of anyone’s platform, Mr. President.” 
Trump: “The Democrats are able to kill the baby after birth and nobody wants that.”
Welker: “Democrats don’t want that either.”
— NBC’s Meet the Press, September 17, 2023.


Hitting Kamala Harris as “Insufficiently Progressive”

“[Kamala] Harris had a rapid ascent in California’s legal circles, rising from county prosecutor to San Francisco District Attorney, to California Attorney General, cultivating a moderate political reputation and inviting criticism from some liberals that she was insufficiently progressive on criminal justice issues.”
— Correspondent Kristen Welker on NBC’s Today, August 12, 2020. 


Holt Hammers Trump Repeatedly, But Asked Hillary If Her “Feelings Get Hurt” 



“You were sitting here watching the top of the broadcast with us. You saw images of Republicans burning their Republican registration cards. So angry at the idea of you representing the party. What did you think when you saw that?...
“You’re speaking to the whole country now. You said things that shocked people, outraged people, about a temporary ban on Muslim immigration, to your characterizations of Mexican immigrants. Those things worked for you. They resonated. They worked. They got you to where you are today. But as you try to appeal to the entire country, do you stand by them? Do you stand, for example, behind the idea of a ban against foreign Muslims coming here?”...
“Your negatives are staggering. Disapproval 69% women, African-Americans, 88%, Latinos 79%, people under 34, 75% disapprove. How much of that is self-inflicted by some of the rhetoric from the primary campaign, and how do you heal that while still respecting those who got you here?”|
— Questions to Donald Trump on NBC Nightly News, May 4, 2016. 


“I want to ask you about a moment at the town hall the other day. A young man, a Bernie Sanders supporter, stood up and said young people don’t trust you....And when he said that I winced. And I was wondering, you’ve obviously been in tough battles, political battles, but do you get your feelings hurt sometimes?...What frustrates you the most about perceptions about you?”
— Holt interviewing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, January 29, 2016.


Even When Dems Lose, They Win! 



“Even some of the candidates who came up short aren’t being counted out. Instead, getting buzz as future stars of the Democratic Party, including Beto O’Rourke, who put up a tough fight against incumbent Senator Ted Cruz in Texas....And Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who went down in defeat in his battle for Florida governor, but keeping the fighting spirit.”
— Correspondent Kristen Welker on NBC’s Today, November 7, 2018.


Holt to Donald Trump, Jr.: Can Your Dad “Cry?” 



“You and your siblings have been very effective this week trying to paint a picture of your dad –  you know, the dad that you know. At the same time, when you think about a president, strength is obviously important; but we also sometimes look for our leaders to be compassionate – to console us during national tragedy. We saw President Obama in Dallas a week or so ago. We haven’t seen that Donald Trump. Is this a man that can cry? Can he emote?” 
— Anchor Lester Holt to Donald Trump Jr. on NBC Nightly News, July 21, 2016.